Should Women be in Politics?

Me and Megan at Annie's List Candidate Training
Me and Megan at Annie’s List Candidate Training

This past weekend, I attended Annie’s List Candidate Training 101 with my daughter. According to their website, “Annie’s List is a diverse coalition of political professionals, non-profit executives, policy experts, former candidates and elected officials, major donors, attorneys and more, all dedicated to changing the face of power in Texas politics – and thereby combating the assault on issues of most importance to women and their families – by recruiting, training and supporting women candidates across the state.” Annie’s List staff posed the question to us, should women be in politics?

My daughter, Megan, majored in political science and history at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. She recently interned at Emily’s List, a national organization similar to Annie’s List. Currently, Megan works for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington, D.C. Before Megan, I rarely paid attention to politics. Between Megan and studying public health in my doctoral program and learning the impact of politics on health care, I have suddenly become very interested in politics.

After Senator Wendy Davis’ historic filibuster regarding H.R. 1797, I wrote a paper in my Ethics course on the impact of that bill now signed into law during special session. Despite the focus of the law on abortion, the law stands poised to consequently shut down numerous women’s clinics throughout the state that perform not only abortions but additional women’s health services.

At the same time the new legislation is claiming to benefit women’s health, consequences of the legislation appear to limit access to essential reproductive care and screenings. This ultimately will cause more harm to the uninsured population of women who desperately depend on these services.

Having grown up in the demographic standing to be impacted and been a victim of sexual assault at an early age, my interest in politics has deepened. Education played a key role in my escape from these circumstances. Yet, education is another pivotal subject when one talks about politics and women. Funding cuts in education have increased the difficulty for women to rise out of low-income and receive the health care they deserve.

Limiting access to health care and education concerns me both as a woman and a registered dietitian. Doing so may limit the only access for low-income women to nutrition and fitness education and divert what little disposable income available from feeding themselves and their children healthy foods to prevent future health problems.

My answer to the question is yes. Women should be in politics to defend and further their rights while protecting those who cannot speak for themselves. Will I run for office? After I finish my degree, I just might.

 

Life-Long Learning

KidsDr5-ag
Texas Academy Media Representative

Those who know me personally know that I am a doctoral student. This summer, I had the opportunity to take two thought provoking courses, Leadership and Ethics.

In leadership, we took a battery of leadership assessment tools including the Myer’s Briggs and the Firo-B among many others. The point of the exercise was to examine oneself as a leader and person then use the learning to enhance leadership skills. Everyone should self-assess and grow from time-to-time. As a registered and licensed dietitian, my profession requires pursuit of continuing education and growth since our foundation is evidence-based science and practice.

In Ethics, we read an amazing book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” The book details the use of Henrietta’s cells in medical research and gives not only a detail of how the research affected her family but also a good history of medical advancement. The book was wonderfully written and engaging. I highly recommend reading although make sure you have plenty of time as you won’t be able to put the book down.

Another learning opportunity I experienced came from attending the annual Leadership Conference hosted by the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Having recently been selected as a media representative by the Texas Academy, I attended the conference to learn more about my role.IMG_0137

The Texas Academy serves Registered and Licensed Dietitians in the state of Texas helping to ensure they receive support, networking opportunities and education to meet the criteria of registration and licensure. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RD or RDN’s) are food and nutrition experts who have met academic and professional requirements to qualify for the credentials. In the state of Texas, licensure is also required to protect the health of the public.

Interestingly, in order to become registered and licensed RD/RDN’s must:

1)   Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in science from an accredited university or college.

2)   Complete a supervised practice or internship.

3)   Pass a national examination based on their education and experiences.

4)   Complete continuing professional education requirements to maintain both registration and licensure to ensure current understanding of emerging science.

Many Registered and Licensed Dietitians go on to complete further credentialing in specialized areas of practice such as diabetes, pediatrics or sports nutrition. In any scenario, registered dietitians are educated professionals prepared to assist people in meeting their nutrition goals.

Now entering my second year in my journey of life-long learning as a doctoral student in public health, I am thankful for the opportunity to seek further expertise. At the conference, I discovered that many of my colleagues are pursuing advanced degrees as well. This allows registered and licensed dietitians to engage and impact food and nutrition policies to benefit the lay public.

Assisting the public in their education and proactive efforts to utilize healthy food as well as an active lifestyle for health prevention defines the role of the dietitian in working collaboratively with local and state food and nutrition communities. Through these communities, life long learning can help to prevent degenerative diseases and empower the generations of our future to live long, productive and healthy lives.